The short answer is: often, no.
Spouses may spy to see if their partners are cheating, spending time with undesirable friends, drinking, gambling or otherwise behaving badly. They may want to know whether their spouses are really going to work, whether they’re spending too much money or if they truly are where they say they are.
First and foremost, if you feel the need to spy on your spouse, the marriage probably has other issues. A marriage that is built on dishonesty and distrust is going to need some work.
Secret phone calls, hastily whispered conversations, quick closing of laptops and unexplained expenses can all lead you to want to know a little more about your partner’s extracurricular behavior. In our age of technology, spying has never been easier. Recording your partner’s behavior is as easy as a visit to YouTube to learn how to “bug” the house. Peeking into your spouse’s online correspondence is as easy as purchasing spyware that allows you to see what’s being said in any and all apps. Cell phones have GPS trackers and multiple ways to record, thus becoming little unintentional body cameras. Increasingly, all these strategies are being used to catch cheating spouses in the act.
In any event, the way you gather any information makes a big difference. If you’re not careful, using technology to spy on your spouse may put you in more legal trouble than it’s worth. You could face stalking or invasion of privacy charges.
Bottom line: is it possible to spy on your spouse? Yes. Could it answer some questions that your partner will not? Yes. But if you want to know whether or not tapping into cell phones and email correspondence is legal, then the answer is no.
Evidence of an affair is admissible in court, but keep in mind Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state. That means bad behavior won’t factor into the proceedings unless it involves the kids. In fact, any evidence of an affair or other misbehavior that you gather illegally could result in charges against you—especially if you attempt to present them in court during a divorce proceeding.
Article by Brian Weber, family law attorney at Johns, Flaherty & Collins. For more information on family law in Wisconsin, contact him at 608-784-5678.